Brooklyn is Back!

The streetcars just keep on coming (and in one case, going back). PCC 1053, painted to honor Brooklyn NY, arrived back in San Francisco April 1 (no foolin’) after being thoroughly rebuilt at Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania, part of that company’s contract with Muni to renovate the 16 PCCs in Muni’s original F-line fleet.

It was streetcars (or as they were often called in New York, trolleys) that famously inspired the nickname of Brooklyn’s professional baseball team, which was originally dubbed the “Trolley Dodgers” (later shortened). That baseball team later moved to some other town, somewhere.

Anyway, the streetcars in the current $30 million-plus Brookville contract include 13 single-end streetcars (numbered from 1050 to 1063) that had been acquired from Philadelphia’s SEPTA transit agency second-hand, plus three double-enders (1007, 1010, and 1015) that were bought new by Muni in 1948 and retired from their first service life in 1982. This group of PCCs was initially renovated by Morrison-Knudsen in upstate New York in time to open the F-line in 1995.

The 1053 arrived with its wonderful seal of the City of New York on the sides, but also with duplicate numbers on both ends of the car, high and low. It turns out that at some point in the past 20 years, Muni shops doing work on the 1053 added the extra sets of numbers and Brookville simply replicated that.  Not a big deal; it will be corrected before the car goes into service.

Like previous cars in this contract, the 1053 will now undergo testing for 1,000 miles before being accepted by Muni. This contract includes a one-year warranty on the streetcars.

That warranty is being put to use on Car 1060, which went back into service last July but was found to have significant roof leaks when this winter’s storms hit. Brookville will carry out the warranty work at their factory in Pennsylvania. Here’s the 1060 being loaded for the return trip, courtesy Allen Chan on our Facebook group.

The 1060 will join two single-end PCC painted in tribute to transit systems of the city-that-shall-not-be-named that the Dodgers moved to 60 years ago (1052 – LA Railway, and 1061 – Pacific Electric), which are the next to return, in that order, to San Francisco), plus double-end 1015, which is being used as the prototype for restoring the two double-enders still at Muni (1007 and 1010), as well as the two ex-Red Arrow cars (18 and 21, to be renumbered 1012 and 1013) that Muni acquired from the Shore Line Trolley Museum in Connecticut last year. Negotiations to add the Red Arrow cars to the contract have not yet been concluded, and work on them cannot begin until that’s done.

Two more single-end PCCs, 1057, wearing the Cincinnati tribute livery, and 1058, honoring Chicago Transit Authority, are still at Muni waiting for their turn at Brookville.

As always, we’ll keep you up to date on the comings and goings.

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F-line PCCs Move to Metro East on Friday

Muni’s 32 streamlined PCC streetcars will move their home base from Cameron Beach Yard to Muni Metro East (MME) at Illinois and Cesar Chavez Streets this Friday, June 20, and will operate out of MME starting Saturday. The ten Milan trams have been operating out of MME for almost two years.


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Milan trams stored together with LRVs at Muni Metro East shortly after their move there, August 2012. Peter Ehrlich photo.

The move is tied to major track replacement at Muni’s Curtis E. Green Light Rail Facility, across the street from Cameron Beach Yard at San Jose and Geneva Avenues, and for the tracks leading into Beach Yard as well. The work will be done in phases, and storage space at Beach Yard is needed for light rail vehicles while their home is being renovated. As of now, the one-of-a-kind historic streetcars, such as Muni No. 1, Melbourne No. 496, New Orleans No.952, and the Blackpool boat trams, will remain based at Cameron Beach Yard, where they will be protected by the canopy Market Street Railway advocated for many years, and which was completed three years ago.
Market Street Railway is in continuing discussions with Muni’s parent, SFMTA, about creating the best permanent environment to store and maintain the historic streetcars.
F-line streetcars will now use the T-line on Third and King Streets and The Embarcadero to reach the F-line tracks. They will not be picking up passengers on trips to and from MME.
We’ll have much more on this for our members in our next issue of our newsletter, Inside Track, out next month. And we’ll keep you updated here as well.

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Plain Jane on the Way to a Makeover

Our San Francisco Railway Museum manager, Brian Leadingham, spotted this mystery PCC streetcar gliding by the museum the other day and snapped this quick shot. It’s No. 1056, which has been out of service for quite some time after cracks were found in the part of the frame that attaches the car to one of its trucks (wheel sets). The paint shop was taking the opportunity to repaint the car and had gotten the base coat of cream on when it was decided not to finish the repairs.
Reason: Muni is currently waiting for bids from contractors to renovate the original F-line fleet of 16 PCCs (Nos. 1050-1053, 1055-1063, 1007, 1010 and 1015). These streetcars have seen much heavier use than originally anticipated, due to the popularity of the F-line. The bodies will be fully cleared of rust (the original contractor did a poor job of this 20 years ago), the wiring will be updated, and they will gain the same new propulsion equipment, faithfully based on original PCC designs, that was installed in the last group of renovated streetcars (Nos. 1070-80, 1006, 1008, 1009, 1011, and 1040). This will make the PCC fleet closely standardized, based on equipment of the Westinghouse design, and thus easier to maintain.
Once the new renovation contract is finalized several months in the future, the 16 PCCs will probably be shipped to the contractor three at a time. Meanwhile, in the near-term, needed two good trucks to keep other PCCs running. So No. 1056 will temporarily become a “donor car”, giving up its trucks, which it will get back when it goes out for renovation (it will be one of the first group to go). The car was being moved by shop workers from Cam Beach Yard to Metro East for that purpose.
Mystery solved.

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More F-line Service. But More Streetcars?

The good news: Muni has added more sorely needed F-line service on weekends. The bad news: the additional service is mostly provided by buses, at least for now.
The additional service was long planned, and depended on additional streetcars being available – specifically, some of the 16 streamliner PCCs being renovated by Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania. But that contract does not appear to be going well. The first PCC of the batch has been back in San Francisco more than a year and is still unreliable. (Our members will get a full report on the nature of the problems in the new Inside Track newsletter being mailed next week.)


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Pilot PCC No. 1071 on a test run at the L-Taraval Zoo terminal, September 29

Trying to push things forward, Muni put the pilot streetcar, No. 1071, into passenger service this summer, but had to withdraw it almost immediately because of unreliability. It went back into service last Tuesday after more testing without passengers, but it failed on the line two out of its first three days in service, having to be towed back to Beach Yard (formerly Geneva), where the vintage streetcars are maintained.
Nonetheless, Muni plans to start putting six additional streetcars from the Brookville order into service as early as this week, after modifying some components that were found unreliable in the pilot car.
Meantime, buses are filling those new weekend runs on the F-line, but there are a couple of problems.
First, it appears that most bus operators are not turning on the GPS transmitter that makes their vehicle visible on the “NextMuni” displays at F-line stops or on our live F-line map. (If you see a four digit number beginning in 8 on the live map, without an image of a streetcar next to it, that’s a bus with GPS turned on.)
Second, as SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin volunteered to us the other day, lots of riders just plain don’t want to ride the buses, letting them pass them by at F-line stops. So they’re not helping reduce overcrowding as much as more streetcars would.
To their credit, SFMTA project, maintenance, and operations leaders have been open in discussing the challenges of the renovated streetcars with it, and they express a resolve to end up with reliable vehicles from this contract.
We’ll see how those new streetcars do in service when they appear, and we’ll keep you updated on this important issue here and in our newsletter.

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